The Worcestershire Clubmen Declaration. 5th March 1645
Woodbury Hill from the south. Picture courtesy of John Clift Flickr creative commons.
Path to the top of Woodbury Hill
"These fruits of civil; robberies and innumerable wicked actions committed by the barbarous soldiers, to the unspeakable misery of the poor county". Whitelock
Protestant Mercury March-12-1645
One of the earliest Clubmen gatherings with writing declaration came via the NW Worcestershire Clubmen. A Declaration and Resolution document of March 5th 1645 read out on Woodbury Hill was presented by a Mr Charles Nott, ( Knott ) a parson of Shelsley to a gathering of a 1000 -2000 Clubmen. An account in "The Civil War in Worcestershire" by J W Willis Bund talks of 2000 in number.
The declaration was sought to be presented to Henry Bromley the High Sheriff of Worcestershire.
With over a thousand gathered on Woodbury Hill, the declaration expresses a loyalty to the King, Church of England and the ancient and just privileges of Parliament.
The declaration speaks of keeping a protection and the preserving of our ancient liberties and retaining "our persons and estates" against "the soldier or any other oppressor" This is in common and in keeping with what was of other Clubmen statements of intent in other counties, such as Dorset and Wiltshire.
The Demands and Resolutions by the Clubmen gathered in N.W Worcestershire were in reply to and reflect what was being experienced across the counties. Garrisoned troops and passing troops across counties in armies (from King and Parliament) were taking free quarter and plundering. The Clubmen in gathering and putting demands on garrisoned troops in Worcestershire would in effect help the Parliamentarian cause, as by default the area was predominantly held by Royalist occupying forces. The Declaration by the Woodbury and the Malvern Clubmen was a preemptive action in part, as to keep what was at the time an area not so deeply effected by garrisoned troops.
WOODBURY HILL CLUBMEN
Across March of 1645 we see a pace gathering with Clubmen in confronting the warring parties and calling for a resolution to the war and an order brought about on the soldiers in the Civil War. In early March by example we see the Clubmen in Dorset forcing royalist Sir Lewis Dives hand to tackle the actions of plunder and disorder of his fellow royalist General Goring.
Two reports from early March 1645
In a March report via Protestant Mercury the Dorset Clubmen were reported now with.
"colours, forty horse and furniture and resolved to rather die then suffer those insolence's and outrages which have committed by Gorings forces".
The non resolution with agreement at the Uxbridge peace treaty talks in February of 1645 had brought an added urgency in getting a resolution sought by the men and women caught up in a bloody civil war.
Described by the Clubmen as "unnatural and a war most horrid" the war was seen as two sides who though at war were in agreement when it came to plunder. Troops garrisoned or passing through would take provision at will. For or against, you were either aiding a side in provision or having yourself robbed of provision to stop aiding the imposing side with that provision..
This translated in the writing of the Woodbury Declaration and declarations that followed the Woodbury Declaration of early March with other Clubmen. All of which are in common with demands and resolutions, sent to King and Parliament alike.
Image of the Woodbury Hill Clubmen and Declaration. Thanks to Chris Knott for help and image. This information sign is on Woodbury Hill. A recent visit by myself in 2018 saw this sign in a bad state with wording now faded. As said, thanks to Chris Knott in providing a clean copy, pic of.
Woodbury Hill Information Board
"The Woodbury Declaration"
We having long groaned under many illegal taxations and unjust pressures and that contrary to orders presented to his Majesty by advice of the Lords and Commons assembled at Oxford And ratified and published by his Majesty's gracious proclamation. And nevertheless finding no redress of our grievances, but that we, our wives and children, have been exposed to utter ruin by the outrages and violence of the soldier; threatening to fire our houses; endeavoring to ravish our wives and daughters, and menacing our persons. We are now enforced to associate ourselves in a mutual league for each other's defence, and do declare to the world that our meetings have been, are, and shall be to no other intention or purpose than as followeth.
To maintain the true Reformed Protestant Religion contained in the Doctrine of the Church of England against all Popery and Popish superstitions and all other Heresies and schisms whatsoever.
To defend the King's Majesty's person, honour, and estate against all those that shall oppose the same.
To preserve and uphold the ancient and just privileges of Parliament and known laws of this kingdom against all arbitrary Government which shall be endeavoured to be introduced and put upon us under what pretence soever.
To retain the property of the subject by protecting and safeguarding our persons and estates by the mutual aid and assistance of each other against all murders, rapines, plunder, robberies, or violences which shall be offered by the soldier or any oppressor whatsoever, as is allowed by those orders lately signed by his Highness Prince Maurice as appeareth by the 5th Article of the said orders.
To quicken the execution of those wholesome orders above said ratified by his Majesty's proclamations as also those other orders which at several times since have been agreed upon and signed by his Highness Prince Rupert, Prince Maurice, and also consented unto by the Honourable the Governor and Commissioners for the safeguarding of this county and the great Inquest at several Sessions of the peace held for the body of the same.
Our resolution is not to submit to the execution of any commission intrusted upon any pretence whatsoever in the hands of any Papist, or Papists, Recusant or Recusants or any other joined in commission with any Papist, or Papist Recusant for that by the known laws of this kingdom no Papist, nor Papist-recusants ought to be intrusted in any office of state, justice, or judicature: neither to keep any arms in their houses that may be or prove offensive to any of His Majesty's Loyal subjects.
Our desire is that this our Declaration and resolution may be presented to the High Sheriff of this County to whom alone as his Majesty's Vicegerent we conceive we are bound to render an account of these our doings. And further our petition is that he would be pleased to endeavour that all Popish Recusants within this County may be pressed to take the oaths of Allegiance and supremacy as by law is provided. And upon refusal they may be disarmed as by law they ought.
That it is our request that the Grand Inquest now intrusted for the body of this County may be moved seriously to weigh and consider how they do consent to the illegancy of such Commissions as shall be committed to the hands of Papist, or Popish Recusants lest they betray our trust and so expose both themselves and us to utter ruin.
Reference for Woodbury Hill Information Boards via Worcestershire Recorder Spring 2003, Edition 68 . WORCESTERSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
The inauguration of the Woodbury Hill boards took place on 4 October 2003. Lord Sandys of Ombersley, whose forbears fought on both sides in the Civil War, inaugurating the Clubmen’s Charter board and Malcolm Atkin of Worcestershire Archaeological Service, the Iron Age fort board. The event was also supported by English Heritage, Great Witley Parish Council and, not least, by Mr. David Banks, who owns Woodbury Hill